Cities, counties could get $50M for bridges

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Cities and counties may see an extra $50 million in state money to fix deficient bridges.

Speaker of the Mississippi House Philip Gunn

Gil Ford Photography

House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton

The House Ways and Means Committee voted Monday to pass House Bill 1732, presented by Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton.

Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, told the committee that 28 percent of the bridges in the state are either substandard or impassable. The $50 million in this bill would add to the state’s aid efforts, he said.

Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, said he has never seen numbers backing up Johnson’s claim.

“I just continue to try and figure out where all these bridges are and whose purview they used to fall in and whose purview they fall in now,” he said.

Last year, the Mississippi Economic Council, with the support of its corporate members, pushed a $375 million initiative that would have provided funding to the Mississippi Department of Transportation for road and bridge improvements.

The initiative would have funded replacing 138 bridges across the state, including all wood bridges, and paving projects for Mississippi Department of Transportation across the state.

Rep. Larry Byrd, R-Petal, said he last checked in 2015 and found there were more than 2,000 local bridges, which fall under the purview of cities and counties, that qualified for the Local System Bridge Replacement Rehabilitation Program.

The bill will now go to the floor of the House of Representatives. It must be passed before Wednesday’s deadline to advance.